Supreme Court rules for California motorist followed home by police

23 Juin, 2021, 19:38 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday put limits on when police officers pursuing a fleeing suspect can enter a home without a warrant. He had no warrant to enter the home, but once inside, he said he smelled liquor on Lange's breath and arrested him, not only for the noise violation, but for driving under the influence.

In Lange vs. California, the high court reversed the opinion of California state judges who said police may follow a person if they are in "hot pursuit", even if the suspect's offense is a minor one that could a yield a traffic ticket.

The U.S. Supreme court ruled Wednesday that police can not enter a home without a warrant when pursuing someone for a minor crime.

The court's ruling came in the case of Arthur Lange, who was playing loud music in his auto late one night, at one point honking his horn several times. "An officer must consider all the circumstances in a pursuit case to determine whether there is a law enforcement emergency", Kagan wrote. On many occasions, the officer will have good reason to enter - to prevent imminent harms of violence, destruction of evidence, or escape from the home.

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lange v. California, placing important safeguards on the circumstances in which police officers can enter a home without a warrant.

The case began in October 2016 when Lange, a retired real estate broker, was driving home in Sonoma County and listening to loud music.

Prosecutors argued that because Lange failed to stop when the police vehicle flashed its lights, the officer was justified in pursuing him into his garage. The officer later turned on his car's lights to get Lange to stop.

The officer got out of his auto and, as Lange's garage door was closing, stuck his foot under the door so it would re-open. California also argued that the Supreme Court had never extended its felony "hot-pursuit" exception to misdemeanors, and that adopting a nationwide "hot-pursuit" exception in all misdemeanor cases could materially increase intrusions on legitimate privacy interests.

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